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Dr. Patricia Horne tends to speak in all caps. She's not shouting, she's just passionate: "I LOVE WHAT I DO. I truly believe teaching is the most important profession in the world."

She explains, "Teaching has an exponential effect — if I impact one student, it affects how they teach in the near future, and that can affect other teachers, certainly students, maybe even all their families."

She is endlessly supportive. "I tell my students here at Averett — I will support you on this journey. You will be ready to tackle the challenges. Getting you to that point is my job."

Putting that promise to work, Horne took nine confident students to present papers — their own research — at a state conference last year. According to her, "They knocked it outta the park."

In fact, the Virginia Public Schools science coordinator went to them after the session and gave them his business cards, saying, "If any of you have trouble getting a job, just call me." He was impressed.

Obviously, Horne says, the students had been well prepared by the whole department, and the science conference was just one experience that added to their marketability, but of the nine who presented, two were job hunting. Both were hired within two weeks.

Nuggets of wisdom emanate easily from her: "My job is not to tell you [students] what to think but to make you think." And "every decision we make as teachers should be based on what do the students need, not what do we like to do." Finally, for high school students considering enrolling at Averett to become teachers: "If you come here, you will get engaged on a personal level, and you will succeed."

She points out that the university offers "lots of help — diagnosis, intervention, remediation." A student was absent one day recently. She had another student call him on his cell phone to make sure he was OK. "I overslept," was his response.

Horne said, "tell him if he's not here on Wednesday, we'll be having class in the hall outside his room."

Helpful intervention.


Doctor of philosophy degree, curriculum and instruction, Old Dominion Univeristy (ODU)

Master of education degree, elementary curriculum and instruction from ODU

Bachelor of science degree, biology, The College of William and Mary